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2023 Golf Year in Review

Following a period of turbulence in 2023, the golf world and its industry landscape have seen significant transformations compared to last year. The LIV vs. PGA controversy has created drama that has shaken up the golf world, which became even more prevalent with Jon Rahm signing to LIV in December. Rumors of Tiger Woods' departure from Nike have cast doubts on whether well-established golf brands will remain in the sports industry. Conversely, World Long Drive commenced its inaugural year with Kyle Berkshire reasserting his World Champion status for the third time. In the Women's division, Monica Lieving won her first World Championship after a remarkable season. The landscape of golf has significantly transformed over the past twelve months, bringing anticipation and curiosity for the forthcoming year.

In 2023, the sport of long drive underwent a transformation with the establishment of the newly formed league, World Long Drive. The league introduced more financial incentives, increased nationally televised events to provide exposure for the athletes, and featured new competitors vying for the top spot and to be crowned world champion. In the Open Division, eight different competitors won events during the season, culminating in Kyle Berkshire reclaiming his throne as the number one ranked golfer in World Long Drive. In the Women’s division, Monica Lieving showcased her dominance by winning the first two events of the year and securing the year-end World Championships—the first in her career. In its inaugural year, the golf world has seen significant benefits from the introduction of World Long Drive, which has introduced a refreshing new approach to the sport.

            While the initial news of LIV golf was revealed in 2020, 2023 proved to be the most important year in the PGA and LIV's newly formed rivalry. In the middle of the year, in June, the PGA and LIV shocked the golf world by announcing a " framework agreement" that would merge all the tours into one. This move aimed to bring all the world’s best golfers together again on the same tour. However, as more details emerged and the situation became muddied, the agreement was never finalized. Fresh off the 2023 Masters victory, Jon Rahm confirmed his departure from the PGA Tour to join the LIV Golf Series, securing a lucrative contract worth over 300 million. Despite ongoing negotiations set to conclude by December 31st, 2023, the golf community appears divided, with no immediate resolution in sight.

Similar to the landscape of LIV vs PGA, changes are occurring within the apparel side of golf. Tiger Woods has been a Nike athlete since he was 20 years old. Now, at 47 years old, speculations point to Woods moving on from the brand he has worn for the last 25+ years. When asked about his future with Nike, Tiger responded, 'I am still wearing their product… Right now.' Alongside the Tiger Woods news, Jason Day has opted to leave Nike as well. The former world number 1 has found a new home with Malbon Golf after spending seven years with Nike.

Malbon Golf is a relatively new golf brand, much less established than Nike, TaylorMade, and other major brands that have dominated the golf world for the last 25+ years. The news of a switch from Jason Day to Malbon is of great interest to the golfing community, potentially initiating a trend of high-profile players opting for emerging brands over established major ones. Rumors are circulating that Charlie Woods, son of golfing legend Tiger Woods, has signed with the apparel brand Greyson. Greyson Clothier is an emerging clothing brand that combines fashion with sport while creating apparel that is suitable for modern lifestyles. Greyson, similar to Malbon, has made waves by signing an athlete who would have traditionally gone on to sign with one of the leaders in the industry like Taylormade or Callaway.

2023 marked a year filled with both constructive and detrimental changes, shaping the future of golf. The rise of World Long Drive has provided a platform for long drivers to compete on a national stage with real money on the line. With negotiations continuing through 2024 between LIV and the PGA, an agreement could be reached between the two groups shortly, putting all the best golfers in competition against each other once again. Apparel brands like Malbon and Greyson will also be names to watch in 2024, as their growth is expected to rise with the addition of high-profile athletes like Charlie Woods and Jason Day. The year 2023 in golf had its highest highs and lowest lows, but the sport is growing each day and promises even more excitement and drama in 2024.


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